FaZe are through to Sunday’s grand final of IEM New York’s European division after seeing off Vitality in the semi-final stage. The international team carried their imperious form from Friday’s group stage victory over BIG as they looked a real cut above Vitality, who were on the back foot for the majority of this two-map series. It was yet another dominant performance from Nikola “NiKo” Kovač‘s side, who have looked dominant in every match they have played in this tournament, except the 0-2 loss to OG — the team they will face in a best-of-five series for the title.
This will be FaZe‘s first final since picking up Markus “Kjaerbye” Kjærbye, who delivered another strong performance to take his tournament rating up to 1.13 and silence his critics after struggling to make an impact during his first months with the team.
“We are not playing like pussies anymore,” NiKo said after the match when asked about FaZe‘s improvements. “We are going for the plays, we are no longer hesitating. We have switched some roles, which fits Kjaerbye better and is the reason why he’s performing better.”
FaZe came out all guns blazing, taking the game by the throat during the early stages as they raced to a 6-0 lead, with Kjaerbye raising eyebrows with a clean 1v2 clutch on the A site. Vitality then finally put their foot down to hold back their opponents, equalising the score at 6-6, but FaZe were unwilling to let things get out of control and ended the half with an 8-7 lead, with Håvard “rain” Nygaard nearly pulling off a miraculous clutch in the final round.
Now playing on the T side, Vitality took the pistol round to restore parity at 8-8, only to collapse against FaZe‘s force-buy in the following round. The French team never recovered from the blow and struggled to make their presence felt in the half as any round they won was quickly countered by NiKo‘s troops, who rallied to a comfortable victory.
Inferno began with FaZe jumping out to a 3-0 lead before Vitality took control of proceedings. The French team enjoyed a period of dominance and went on a 5-1 run, but then FaZe tightened up and took the upper hand to finish the half on double digits following an impressive six-round streak.
A trio of kills from Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut in the pistol round marked the beginning of Vitality‘s recovery as the French team began to eat into FaZe‘s lead, even with some blunders along the way. With the score tied 14-14, NiKo punched a hole in Vitality‘s defense with a long-distance headshot onto ZywOo to put his team on match point, with the 19-year-old prodigy failing to keep his side in the game in the final round as the French defense was ruthlessly prised apart.